Former Quebec ski coach released from prison during appeal

Bertrand Charest will be released from prison

Former national ski coach Bertrand Charest will be released from prison as he appeals his convictions on sex-related charges involving young skiers.

“He does not present a risk of flight, nor a risk of committing another infraction, nor a risk of obstructing the administration of justice if he is released while awaiting the appeal,” Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Martin Vauclair wrote in a decision issued Monday.

Charest has been behind bars since his arrest in 2015.

READ MORE: Three victims of ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest suing Alpine Canada

He was found guilty in June 2017 of 37 of the 57 sex-related charges he faced involving nine of the 12 women who had accused him of crimes that occurred more than 20 years ago. He was coaching the victims, some of whom were minors. One became pregnant, and Charest took her to have an abortion.

Charest, 53, is appealing the guilty verdicts as well as the 12-year sentence he received in December 2017.

In arguing for his release, Charest said there had been a significant change in his situation after the Crown conceded that, for a variety of reasons, 20 of the 37 guilty verdicts should not stand.

READ MORE: Canada losing ground on abuse and harassment reporting in sports: study

The Court of Appeal noted that the Crown acknowledges eight of the charges should result in acquittals, eight should result in stays of proceedings and two should yield new trials. Vauclair said the impact of the Crown’s concession is “more than minimal” and will have an impact on the ultimate sentence.

The judge imposed a number of conditions on Charest’s release. He cannot be alone with a minor, he is prohibited from communicating with the victims and he cannot leave Quebec without the court’s approval.

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